Big bank chief stands by Countrywide deal

Bank of America chief says plan to buy troubled mortgage lender for $4 billion is still 'a go.'

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NEW YORK ( -- Bank of America Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lewis said Tuesday his company planned to forge ahead with deal to acquire embattled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, which had just reported a steep quarterly loss.

"At this point, everything is a go to complete this transaction," said Lewis, speaking at Citigroup's Financial Services conference in New York.

Before Tuesday's opening bell, Countrywide (CFC, Fortune 500) swung to a quarterly loss of $422 million during the fourth quarter. The result was was much worse than Wall Street had anticipated.

Countrywide's losses, driven by higher loan loss provisions and impairment charges, were consistent with Bank of America's due diligence efforts and the $4 billion all-stock buyout offer it made earlier this month, according to Lewis.

The deal, which is expected to win approval from both federal regulators and shareholders, would make Bank of America the nation's largest mortgage lender.

Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) shares gained nearly 2% in Tuesday trade on the New York Stock Exchange, while Countrywide was up 3.5%. To top of page

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